The Facebook Page Neurotic

Everyone wants to be liked by other people.  Even people who mow their lawns at 7 o’clock on a Saturday morning want to be liked by other people.  But measuring exactly how many people like you is difficult.  People might come to your party just for the peach cobbler.

Facebook pages, however, measure exactly how many people like you.  And being liked is completely different from being friends.  Lots of people are friends with people they don’t like.

I created a Facebook page to measure exactly how many people liked me, and because of this cryptic passage I read at location 195/542 in Are You There, Blog?  It’s Me, Writer:

 “All writers need a fan page.”

I created the page, uploaded a photo, wrote a self-serving blurb, and picked a gender.  I started inviting my friends to like me so that I could get the magic 25 needed for a username.  I wanted a username so that when I make business cards, the URL to my Facebook page is a neat “facebook.com/username” instead of the messy “facebook.com/firstname-lastname/longstringofnumbers.”

And I wanted my username to be exactly the same as my Twitter handle, MarkKaplowitz.  When you go through life with a first name that ends in the same letter and sound that begins your last name, you always fear that the two names run together in speech and that people won’t know where your first name ends and last name begins.

I think about the others who face this issue:  Julia Allison.  Michael Lewis.  Adam Morrison.  Jennifer Runyon, who played Gwendolyn Pierce on Charles in Charge.  Roald Dahl.  David Duchovny.  William McKinley.  Julius Caesar (using the Anglicized pronunciation).  These high achievers somehow got the world to know their first and last names.  When I saw that HTML was treating all names, big and small, on a lowercase basis, I worried that my concatenated k’s would be seen as one.  I needed a way to show differentiation.

And then I stumbled across Jody Hedlund’s Facebook page, with “AuthorJodyHedlund” as its username.  So it was possible!  I practiced typing my social media contact information on an imaginary business card:

http://twitter.com/MarkKaplowitz

http://facebook.com/MarkKaplowitz

Something was missing.  Then I saw it:

http://twitter.com/MarkKaplowitz

http://facebook.com/MarkKaplowitz

Killer!  The capital M, lowercase k, and capital K were dressed like the Blue Devils drum line!  Now no one would be confused.

My 25th like arrived last Friday afternoon.  With shaking hands I went to Facebook’s username portal, and was curtly informed that “MarkKaplowitz” was taken, just like that Steven Spielberg miniseries about aliens.

Who was this thief, this scoundrel, this cur, this knotty-pated fool who dared to take my username?

I scrolled down and found my answer.  It was me.  I had stolen my own name.

A few months ago, Facebook had offered me the opportunity to pick a username for my personal profile.  I had clicked on “confirm” because I like to click on things.  And Facebook’s help page said that usernames could not be transferred, period.

I searched for another way.  I found a post from August, 2010 that explained that one could release a username from a profile, and then immediately claim it for a page.  But the comments indicated that this strategy became risky in November.  I could not take risks.

One of the comments to that post proposed filing a Facebook copyright infringement claim against yourself.  I was skeptical but desperate.  I filled out Facebook’s form.  It asked for the name I was claiming and typed “markkaplowitz” and hit submit.  I wanted quick resolution, and a few seconds elapsed before I’d realized what I’d done.

I had forgotten to type “MarkKaplowitz” as I’d planned.  My business cards!  My perfectly aligned usernames!  My dispelling of confusion!

I received an email from Facebook confirming receipt of my request to transfer “markkaplowitz” from my profile to my page.  I drafted this reply:

Dear Mr. Zuckerberg,

I make reference to the username “markkaplowitz” that is currently the subject of a copyright dispute.  In the event I prevail against myself, I would prefer that the username for my page be entered as “MarkKaplowitz” with the first letters of my first and last name capitalized.  Makes it a little easier to read.  Sorry for being such a pain.  I love what you’ve done here.  I did not see The Social Network.

Sincerely,

Mark Kaplowitz

As the cursor stood poised over the send button, a voice inside my head said, “Don’t push it.”  But a louder voice said, “Follow your dreams.”  So I sent the email, went in the bathroom to throw up, and stepped outside for some fresh air.

I walked to a park, took a seat on a bench, and watched people.  A mother licked her hand to wipe her child’s face.  A guy in a backwards baseball cap scratched his chin while his girlfriend sent a text message.  A silver-haired man in a seersucker suit strolled by with a house cat on a leash.  The world showed nothing but indifference.

I went back to my computer.  No emails from Facebook, no change to the username.  I tried to blog, but the words weren’t coming.  I needed that username.

As the hours passed I became convinced that I would not get the transfer.  I would have to be “MarkKaplowitz2” or “TheRealMarkKaplowitz” or “ThatGuyWhoWritesThoseRememberWhenPostsOnSchlabadooDotCom.”  My business card would look messy.  My career would stagnate.  I would grow old on that park bench, telling myself over and over that I never should have sent that email.

And then I refreshed my page for the millionth time and saw that the username had been transferred.  It was “markkaplowitz” without any capitalization.  And I thought to myself, “You know, it looks kind of chic in all lowercase.  Maybe I should change my Twitter name to all lowercase.  For the business cards.”

Thanks Facebook!

Have you created a Facebook page?  Did you have any difficulty choosing a username?  What are your thoughts on capitalization in URLs?  What are your thoughts on crazy Facebook obsessions?

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20 Comments

Filed under Social Media

20 responses to “The Facebook Page Neurotic

  1. Mark! I LOVE this post. Where is the LOVE button?

    I first ran into this problem on Facebook when creating a Fan page. First of all, I’m not sure I actually have a “Fan Page,” but I have something going on. I tried to put in Renee Schuls-Jacobson and had the same problem you had. I was already there. As myself. With the people that I know in real life.

    So I decided to try RASJacobson. AND SOMEONE ELSE WAS ALREADY USING THAT! Whaaaaaat? I PM’d that person and asked him/her (it was just the generic outline person) if he/she would consider changing his/her Facebook name because I could see he/she only had 29 friends and I was going to be a famous author one day. Presumptuous? Maybe. He/she responded with a big fat “Piss off.” So I have a page called “Lessons From Teachers and Twits” – just like my blog.

    The one thing I forgot to try? Renee A. Schuls-Jacobson. The “A” would have probably done it for me. I’m sure of it. It still haunts me. Should I try again? Maybe. But not today. Not today.

    Moving on to Twitter. I saw Clay Morgan run into his name issues on Twitter and so he became @ClayMorganPA. Even Kristen Lamb, for goodness sakes – The Queen – had to make herself KristenLambTX. But I figured I’d be Renee Schuls-Jacobson. But it was waaaay too LONG for Twitter! Whaaaaaat? That’s my name, man? Okay, so I tried Renee Jacobson, feeling truncated. Can you imagine? THERE WAS ANOTHER ONE? Whaaaaaaaat? I checked her out and I swear, I’ll bet she was the same girl from Facebook! She only had 3 followers! I sent her a Tweet asking if she’d consider letting me have the name. You know because I had big girl panties to fill. And dreams, those too. She never responded. Can’t imagine why? Probably because she is never on Twitter! What a waste. So I’m @rasjacobson on Twitter.

    Recently, I realized I had to get a Google account because things are getting hard to handle with all email coming to the home address. So I went and tried to set up an account there. And I plan to switch over to a true dot com address this summer. Like you, I’m thinking: I’ll try to get it with my name ReneeASchulsJacobson. Denied. (Too Long.) RASJacobson WAS TAKEN! Probably by the friendless Facebook-Twitter Twit who always seems to be one step ahead of me! Keeping my cool, I decided to follow Clay and the Queen. RASJacobsonNY. It was available. I clicked on it. Fast. Because, like you, I like to click on things. And I felt like it could go at any moment like a Picasso at a garage sale or something.

    The confirmation said my email was “rasjacobsonny.”

    Did you see that? I made myself into a guy. “sonny” – I didn’t know everything would be in lowercase. At least that’s only the gmail account. But I feel uber cyber-disintegrated. And I’m one of the most organized people. Ever.

    At this point, I am willing to pay someone to integrate all my shizz. I don’t see how it is possible. I really don’t.

    One day, when I make it big, I’m sure my publicist will help me sort out all this crap. Until then, consider me red.hot.mess. Oh wait, that’s taken, too. 😉

    • Thank you, Renee, I’m glad you enjoyed it. And I thought I had problems. I’m sorry to hear that the Internet name game been such an ordeal for you, especially with the other RASJacobson. What are the odds? Still, you got a funny story out of it, and I’m glad you shared it here. That’s what I love about blogging. Today’s challenges are tomorrow’s posts.

      And I don’t think anyone could confuse you with anyone else on Twitter 🙂

  2. Sometimes you just don’t know how long you’ve been raving until you push SUBMIT. Apparently, I like to submit a lot. Do you think maybe it’s stuff like the statement above which could explain why I got “Class Flirt 1985”? 😉

  3. Thank you for writing another reason for Social Media to make me pull my hair out one hair at a time. Half the producitivty with twice the pain!

    (Great post!)

  4. Jbuttwhatwhat came about because I tried to make my Facebook profile address facebook.com/jbutt. Turn out, there is actually a fella named Jason Butt out there. And when I found out, I said, “Jbutt? What?!”

    Now it sounds like I’m raising the roof, and you just can’t go wrong with that.

  5. I need to read Kristen’s second book. I have it.

    I’ve been Leanne Shirtliffe on FB for years. I also have an Ironic Mom FanPage. I don’t know what I’m doing….flinging these names out there. But I fling anyways. 😉

  6. Ken

    Mark, great job as always.
    I thought you should know that today the greatest thing happened to me. At a deli that sells the best homemade cookies, I regularly purchase their peanut butter cookies with peanut butter chips and melted peanut butter cups on top. It might be too late to prevent people with a peanut allergy from reading that…sorry.
    Today, some melted peanut butter cup from what had to have been an adjacent cookie in the oven covered about 15% of my cookie.

    SCORE!

    • Ken

      I should have also mentioned that I was not missing ANY of my own cookie’s melted penaut cup topping. Using my peanut butter cookie CSI skills, I was able to confirm that I was, in fact, the benefactor of AT LEAST an extra 15% topping…FOR FREE!

      • Thanks, Ken. I’m happy that you liked the post. And being a peanut butter aficionado myself, I’m even happier about your 15% peanut butter bonus. What a way to start the weekend!

  7. Great post. I need to finish Are You There Blog. I dread the Fan Page ordeal. Your post, for some reason, made me feel horribly Gumpish. (As in Forest Gump.)

    • Thank you, Catie. There’s nothing to dread about the Fan Page. I barely know what I’m doing and I’m having a blast. Even the littlest bit of fan interaction is very rewarding.

  8. dad

    Problem solved. Petition the Supreme Court to legally change your name to “mark1”.

  9. The best part about this post is that you’re putting so much effort into creating an author platform. Good for you! People always ask me how I did this or that. I try to tell them, but the truth is that I stumbled and bumbled around a lot. Just part of the process, pushing through the frustration and confusion to create what other people aren’t willing to go after.

    • There’s definitely a lot of trial and error. But the biggest surprise is has been how much fun it is to work on the page. In between blog posts I post humorous articles I’ve found around the web on my wall, usually with a comment of my own. I don’t know if anyone else finds these funny, but I enjoy it just the same. Thanks for the encouragement.

  10. All around well written piece

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